LEAD Students Serve Kaulton Park Community


By: Ali Burleson

Culverhouse’s UA Business LEAD program champions professional and personal development through its integration of academics with co-curricular activities, preparing students for a lifetime of success both inside and outside the world of business

During the fall 2023 semester, former LEAD intern Nate Owens spearheaded the development of LEADnxt, an initiative to empower, educate, and enable the next generation of community leaders through service learning. 

Culverhouse students Matt Flenniken, Joey Benucci, and Charles Makobongo took up the mantle from Owens for the spring semester — and are actively recruiting University of Alabama students to join them by promoting the importance of civic engagement.

“The inspiration behind starting LEADnxt was to bridge the gap between our business school and the local community,” Flenniken said. “We wanted to provide students with an opportunity to serve and give back.”

Most recently, Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox invited program members to serve the Kaulton Park community.

Twenty-four students worked together to make a tangible difference. Rolling up their sleeves and grabbing gloves, trash bags, and lots of water, the team embarked on a day of trash cleanup throughout the community’s park and beyond to the surrounding neighborhood.

Flenniken, Benucci, and Makobongo highlighted the “…meaningful interactions with grateful neighbors and community members, further reinforcing the importance of our efforts.” 

“I’ve gained a deeper understanding of the importance of community engagement and the positive impact it can have on individuals and neighborhoods,” Flenniken said.

Clayton Jenison, a LEAD student who participated in the Kaulton Park cleanup day, said the experience was more than he anticipated. “It surprised me because serving at Kaulton Park gave me a sense of fulfillment that I didn’t expect to come out of it,” Jenison said. “I can’t wait to serve the next serve day that LEADnxt plans.”

LEADnxt continues to set new standards for civic engagement. Last semester, the program served over 400 meals at a local soup kitchen. Additionally, LEADnxt organizes a day of service near the end of each semester, providing students with ongoing engagement opportunities to make a meaningful contribution to their community — while also gaining leadership skills.

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